“If a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”
Those wise words by Samuel Johnson couldn’t ring truer in today’s today and age, courtesy the city’s eclectic and continually-evolving culinary scene. At some point, a Londoner’s life can pretty much be summed up as: another day, another dinner.
Keeping track of the myriad of new openings can be a daunting task. Prioritising how you work your way across them even more so, especially as these restaurants sometimes fall flat of the surrounding hype and built-up-expectations.
So purely in public interest, I’m taking it upon myself to meticulously chronicle the most noteworthy new spots visited in London in 2017. I’ll keep adding to this post as the year progresses, so do keep checking in for the latest recommendations… A foodie’s job is never done!
Quite possibly one of the trendiest openings this summer (backed by the Waney brothers behind Roka, Zuma, LPM & The Arts Club!), Meraki is a Greek-chic affair which won us over on several counts: the buoyantly buzzy vibe (complete with a DJ on the decks!); the breezy Mediterannean cuisine; and the genuine warmth and hospitality radiated by the restaurant… Full review, here.
Belatedly celebrating #WorldChocolateDay with this ridiculously smooth chocolate & hazelnut bar @MerakiLondon… #London's trendy new Greek restaurant situated in the heart of Fitzrovia! More highlights on the blog. #ChocolateDay #JokesEveryDayIsChocolateDay #WeekendScenes #Meraki #TopLondonRestaurants #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
The latest restaurant from the trio behind Bao (Soho & Fitzrovia) offers a cinematic reinterpretation of 1930’s Taipei. There’s also a dedicated tea kiosk (with a tea and whisky pairing), Mahjong rooms and insanely-Instagrammable shades of pink. As for the menu, the focus spans traditional Taiwanese dishes (including some street-style eats). Veggie options are limited, but more than compensate with their comforting depths of flavour… Full review, here.
The Ned London, Poultry
A luxury hotel, private members club (lending access to a rooftop pool) and nine restaurants and bars all under one roof. Reasons a-plenty to visit London’s grandest opening since… I don’t know when! If you have a passion for poke, I couldn’t recommend Kaia (the Asian-Pacific inspired eatery) enough. Full review, here.
Rediscovering a passion for poke last night at Kaia @TheNedLondon 🌈 It was a bit of a toss-up initially, choosing between the eight restaurants housed within the lobby of this grand new opening in the City… but we definitely did well by dining at this contemporary Asian-Pacific restaurant! The cocktails were cracking (matcha sour anyone?), poke bowls were simply the best I've had yet (hearty, vibrant & oh-so-stunning!) and dessert was a wonderfully offbeat affair involving grilled & marinated pineapple (with miso caramel) and mochi ice cream. Any recommendations on which of the other seven restaurants to try next time? #EatTheRainbow #TheNedLondon #TopLondonRestaurants #FoodieLife #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
Duck & Waffle Local, St James
Duck might be the quacking name of the game at this “fast casual chef curated” offshoot of the iconic Duck & Waffle in the City, but Chef Dan Doherty does plenty right by us vegetarian folk too. Don’t miss out on the sweet waffle cones for afters! Full review, here.
A spoon, a scoop or the whole sweet cone? But naturally, we rounded off last night's dinner at @DuckAndWaffleLocal with the #FullElvis 🙌🏻 Fantastic new dining concept by @DanDoherty_ and team @DuckandWaffle, it might be fast but the food is by no means casual… And with much focus on championing fresh veggies (alongside the duck-centric dishes), there's plenty to have this vegetarian waddling back soon 🐤 #AboutLastNight #DuckAndWaffleLocal #TopLondonRestaurants #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
Bun House & Tea Room, Soho
Recently opened on the corner of Greek Street, this striking new Chinese café specialises in traditional Cantonese-style closed buns and pickles, with the bao options ranging from sticky barbecue pork belly to chicken and fish. It’s worth popping in for those exploding custard buns alone… Read more as part of my foodie’s guide to Soho.
#AboutLastNight's post-dinner pitstop @8unHouse, newly opened in Soho's Greek Street. These impossibly fluffy custard buns revealed a lusciously-sticky sweet and savoury filling of salted duck egg, coconut milk & carrot… Impossible to eat without making a mess, and might just be one of the best things I've had this year yet! #TakingYolkPornToAWholeNewLevel #BuzzFeastFood #NomNomNom #FoodieChats #TopLondonRestaurants #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
Cheese Bar, Camden
Spinning off from the Cheese Truck, this much-awaited new eatery in Camden Market dials up the lactose by a few decadent notches. *Those* grilled cheese toasties feature prominently of course; more enticing still are dishes which range from a Mexican-inspired take on fondue, to poutine and a blue cheese ice cream sundae… Full review, here.
So it was all too easy bein' cheezy @TheCheeseBarLDN, a haven for kindred cheese-lovin' souls now open in Camden Market Stables! Get the full lowdown on the blog, you know where the link's at… (in my profile 👆🏻). #NewOpening #CheeseIsAllYouNeed #AndCarbsToo #FoodieLife #TopLondonRestaurants #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
So this may very well be remembered as the year that cemented the edgy transformation of Indian cuisine in London.
And quite unexpectedly, one of the frontrunners leading the charge is a young British chef Will Bowlby. Inspired by his time living and working in Mumbai, his modern dishes marry familiar Indian flavours with seasonal British elements – think samphire pakoras and a Delica pumpkin styled in the fashion of a boisterously-buttery paneer-makhani…
Find out more in my recent guide to the best Indian food in London.
Palatino and Il Pampero
Italian cuisine is also back in the spotlight this year.
To do as the Romans do, head to Palatino in Clerkenwell – the latest (and fifth) restaurant from celebrated chef Stevie Parle. It’s a laid-back space with friendly service, freshly-made pastas and dishes which are ravishing in their beautiful simplicity (we all but lapped up the warming pea and broad-beans stew).
Palatino, 71 Central Street, Clerkenwell, EC1V 3AG
Celebrating life's simple pleasures… one plate of Cacio e Pepe at a time 🧀🍝 Made it to @PalatinoLondon at last – celebrated chef @StevieParle's take on traditional Roman cuisine in a quiet neighbourhood of Clerkenwell. T'was just what the miserably grey weather called for too! #AboutLastNight #CacioePepe #TopLondonRestaurants #FoodieLife #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
Meanwhile Il Pampero at the boutique hotel, The Hari in Belgravia, embraces a nostalgia for old-world glamour, whilst serving up a contemporary twist on traditional cooking. Expect bartenders clad in white jackets, champagne in coupe glasses, and a theatrical touch with dishes finished table-side including a creamy Cacio e Pepe prepared in a giant wheel of cheese! Full review, here.
A stylised take on classic tiramisu @IlPampero… Embracing a nostalgia for old world charm & glamour, this chic new restaurant @TheHariLondon has all the potential for becoming my new favourite for Italian fine-dining! The link's in the bio, if you fancy reading the full review. #NewOpenings #TopLondonRestaurants #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
And then there’s Jason Atherton’s impossibly trendy American-style Italian, Hai Cenato. The focus here is on pizzas (along with pastas and grills), and although the cooking isn’t as sensational as you’d expect of the Michelin-starred chef’s other establishments, it’s reasonably good and worth a visit if you find yourself in the vicinity of the new Nova Victoria development! Full review, here.
Spread over six storeys of a Townhouse in the heart of Soho, this new drinking and dining den is a throwback to all the revelry and decadence of the prohibition-era.
We loved the cosiness of the Victorian-inspired Parlour Restaurant; but it were the thrilling cocktails – more than the dinner – which emerged the main draw. The house infusions here show a great degree of brilliance, imparting flavours as varied as quince & blue cheese or venison and summer truffle, to subtly lace the spirit in your chosen tipple!
Six Storeys, 11 Soho Square, Soho, London W1D 3QE
The only thing better than mac and cheese… mac and cheese dished up in a devilishly deep-fried golden form! And this with a gin cocktail infused with a croissant, hobnobs and a hint of Madeira cake 🍸😍 Yep, there was plenty to our liking this evening at the wonderfully cosy Parlour restaurant @SixStoreys – a new drinking & dining den in Soho Square decadently spread across six storeys of a converted townhouse! #SoMuchForDetoxMonday #TheFoodieDiariesLondon
Ralph’s Coffee & Bar
When Ralph Lauren serves coffee, cocktails and food, you can instinctively expect it to do so in a setting which wouldn’t be out of place in a gentleman’s club on the East Coast.
The menu is inspired by classic club-like fare too and although it was simply a whelming affair for us (neither overly-impressive, nor something which merits critiquing), there’s no denying the appeal of this intimate hideout in the heart of London’s shopping district! Read the full review, here.
There are a couple of openings from late last year that I only managed to visit recently…
Jinjuu Mayfair (the cocktails here are as compelling and the Korean eats as satisfying, as at their original restaurant in Soho); and Cinnamon Bazaar (a vibrant new restaurant in Covent Garden dishing up the best chaat I’ve had this side of Bombay.
But in case you’re hungry for more, here’s my list of favourites from 2016.
Find a comprehensive list of all my reviews indexed by cuisine and location, here.